February 12, 2008
News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - Free Prize Inside
Today's challenge deals with how to champion a project so teammates become engaged without involving management:
"I am working on a Six Sigma project to earn my Green Belt. I was told what project to work on and who my team members would be. 2 of the team members are the biggest stake holders and object the most to the changes that need to happen to reach our goal; they do not have buy in to the project or the goal. I do not hold a management position so they do not feel the need or pressure to cooperate. The person who assigned the project and my team is no longer with the company so can not address this. I get the idea that they feel the project is no longer an issue and that it, and I, will just go away. How can I gain their cooperation without going to their supervisor? I feel that going that direction would only make them despise the project/changes more and they would contribute even less than they do now." - Debra
This is a difficult issue, and Debra is right about her assumption that if she involves her co-worker's supervisor, things will only get worse. So, what's a dedicated employee to do? Seth Godin's book Free Prize Inside has a chapter called "Selling the Idea" that offers great insight to this particular challenge.
To get buy-in from co-workers, Godin talks about creating a "Fulcrum of Innovation" that will change co-worker's project perception in regards to three important questions: "Is it going to be successful, is it worth doing, and is this person able to champion the project?" To answer these, Godin says the champion must exude a strong sense of confidence, and then find out what each individual involved would be looking to gain from the project. In other words, are they looking for challenges, job security, making the world a better place, making their job easier, or something else? The project champion should find out what each individual's self-interest is, and approach the project from that angle when talking to them about it.
Godin then goes through a thorough list of tactics to increase involvement, one of which fits Debra's situation nicely; "Dare Them to Improve Your Idea." By encouraging each person involved to improve the idea, they'll take more ownership in it, and by taking ownership in it, they'll start to view it as something they are apart of, not against. From there, Godin describes a variety of other tactics that will make people want to get on board. With this approach, the project won't just get done, it will turn into something even greater than what it was planned to be, and your efforts will be the reason. Godin states, "Once you know how to champion a project, you're set for life, regardless of where you happen to be working."
I'm sending Debra a copy of the book today. Beyond this chapter, she'll find even more ideas that will help turn her into a champion of this project, and many more going forward.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.